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Blue Devils shut out in jamboree

WATER VALLEY — The thick humidity in the late Mississippi summer was noticed immediately in Water Valley’s jamboree versus the Ripley Tigers on Friday at Bobby Clark Field.

Two fumbles on the first possession were hopefully the result of a slippery football from the humidity and not the nerves of the first game-like situation for some of the players. Regardless of the reason, it was not the ideal way for Water Valley to start off the season even if it was a scrimmage, falling 21-0.

The game was cut somewhat short after a 30-minute lightning delay. Even with the unexpected intermission, Ripley managed to score before the officials ordered a stoppage in play. The Tigers hit on a 26-yard touchdown pass only five minutes into the game.

Water Valley coach Brad Embry pointed out in the postgame huddle that his players need to practice at game speed so they can come out firing instead of sluggish like they did Friday night.

“We dropped passes, dropped snaps, and that comes practicing and thinking you’re practicing full-speed when you’re not,” Embry said. “When you can come out against a good opponent like Ripley, your weaknesses are magnified, but we just have to clean it up, get over it and get better.”

The Blue Devils managed to move the ball with some success the following possessions. Although Water Valley did not manage to score in the scrimmage, the offense produced 102 yards in one half of play. Seniors Julian Williams and Taghee James did a very quality job running the ball in the all but stagnant offense.

Big plays
The Blue Devils’ defense did a decent job containing Ripley but gave up two more big plays that both resulted in touchdowns, one being a 70-yard rush and the other a 53-yard touchdown pass.

The rest of the half was no different from the start with Water Valley not being able to find its groove and Ripley finishing the scrimmage with the three-score lead. When Water Valley quarterback Ty Varner was able to connect with some of his receivers, the result was exactly what coach Brad Embry wanted, though the opportunities were missed more than they succeeded.

“We weren’t worried about doing anything fancy. We really focused more on Water Valley than Ripley and what we were doing,” Embry said. “We wanted to play fast and physical and we did that at times, but then we would turn the ball over. Just things you can’t do and be a good football team.”

Embry really put an emphasis on fundamentals and perfecting the little things to help the bigger picture.

“Go to work Monday,” Embry said. “If you want to be good, we can be good. I can tell you what to do, but it’s up to you to find the heart to push yourselves.”

The next quarter gave a chance to see some of the younger Blue Devils impress and possibly earn their spot on the varsity squad. Freshman Damicah Hervey had a 45-yard run, the longest of the day by a Water Valley player, while the Devils amassed a little over 60 yards in the quarter of play.

Water Valley will open the season on the road against Eupora on Friday at 7 p.m.